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CHAPTER XXX.

ON THE CONDITION OF THE GREAT.

A man was thrown by a tempest on an unknown island, the inhabitants of which, were seeking their king, whom they had lost; and as he had accidentally some resemblance to him, both in face and figure, he was mistaken for him, and recognized as such by all the people. At first he knew not how to act; but he resolved, at length, to yield to his good fortune. He received, therefore, all the respect with which they honored him, and allowed himself to be treated as their king:

But since he could not altogether forget his former condition, he thought even while he received their homage, that he was not the king whom this people sought, and that the kingdom did not really belong to him. His thoughts, consequently, were two-fold.One by which he played the king; the other which recognized his true condition, and that chance only had placed him in this extraordinary position. He hides this last thought, whilst he discloses the other. According to the former, he deals with the people; according to the latter, he deals with himself.

Think not, that by a less extraordinary chance, you possess your wealth, than that by which this man be-, came a king. You have not in yourself any personal or natural right, more than he; and not only does your being the son of a duke, but your being in the world at all, depend upon a variety of contingencies. Your birth depended on a marriage, or rather on all the marriages of a long line of ancestry. But on what did these marriages depend? On an accidental meeting! on a morning's conversation! on a thousand unforeseen occurrences.

You hold, say you, your riches from your forefath

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ers; but was it not the result of a thousand contingencies, that your forefathers acquired or preserved them ? A thousand others as clever as they, have not been able to acquire wealth, or have lost it when

You conceive, that by some natural channel, this wealth descended from your ancestry to you. No such thing. This order is founded solely on the will of those who made the laws, and who might have had divers good reasons for so framing them; but none of which, most assuredly, was formed in the notion of your natural right in those possessions. If they had chosen to ordain, that this wealth, after having been possessed by the father during his life, should return at his death to the public treasury, you would have had no reason to complain.

Thus then, the whole title by which you possess your property, is not a title founded in nature, but in human appointment. Another train of thought, in those who made the laws, would have made you poor; and it is only this favorable contingency, by which you are born in accordance with the whim, of law, which has put you in possession of your present wealth.

I do not mean to say that your goods are not yours legitimately, and that others are at liberty to rob you of them ; for God, our great master, has given to society the right of making laws for the division of property; and when these laws are once established, it is unjust to violate them. And here is a slight distinction between you and the man of whom we have spoken, whose only right to the kingdom, was founded in an error of the people; for God would not sanction his possession, and, in fact, requires him to renounce it, whilst he authorizes yours. But the point in which the two cases completely coincide, is this, that neither your right nor his is founded in any quality or merit whatever in you, or which renders you deserving of it. Your soul and your body are of themselves no more allied to the state of a duke, than to that of a laborer; there is no natural tie which binds you to the one condition, rather than to the other.

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Then what follows from this ? that you ought to have, as this man of whom we have spoken, a two-fold habit of thought; and that, if you act outwardly towards men, according to your rank in life, it becomes you, at the same time, to cherish a sentiment more concealed, but more true, that you are in no respect naturally above them; and if the more ostensible thought elevates you above men in general; this secret conviction should lower you, and reduce you to a perfect equality with all men; for this is your natural condition.

The people who admire you, are perhaps not aware of this secret. They believe that nobility is a real natural superiority; and they regard the great, as being of a different nature from others. You are not required to correct this error, if you do not wish it; but see that you do not insolently misuse this elevation, and, above all, do not mistake yourself, and imagine that there is in your nature something more elevated than in that of others.

What would you say of him who had been made king, through the mistake of the people, if he so far forgot his original condition, as to imagine that this kingdom was properly his, that be deserved it, and that it belonged to him as a matter of right. You would wonder at his folly. But is there less folly in men, who live in such strange forgetfulness of their native condition ?

How important is this advice! For all the arrogance, violence and impatience of the great, spring but from this ignorance of what they really are. For it would be difficult for those who inwardly consider themselves on a level with all men, and who are thoroughly convinced that there is in them nothing that merits the little advantages which God has given them above others, to treat their fellow-creatures with insolence. To do this, they must forget themselves, and believe that there is in them some essential superiority to others. And in this consists the delusion which I am anxious to expose to you.

2. It is desireable that you should know what is really due to you, that you may not attempt to require of men that which is not your due, for that were a manifest injustice ; and yet to act thus, is

very common in men of your condition, because they are not aware of their real merit.

There is in the world two sorts of greatness; there is a greatness founded in nature, and a greatness founded in appointment. That which is constituted great, depends on the will of men, who have believed with reason, that they ought to honor certain situations in life, and pay them certain respects.

Of this kind are titles and nobility. In one country, the nobles are reverenced; in another, the laborers. In this the elder; in that, the younger. Why. is this? Because men would have it so. It was a matter of indifference before it was so constituted; since then, it has become a matter of right, for it is unjust to interfere with it.

Natural greatness is that which is independent of the caprices of men, because it consists in real and effective qualities of body and mind, which render the one or the other more estimable, as science, intellect, energy, virtue, health, or strength.

We owe a duty to each of these kinds of greatness; but as they differ in nature, we'owe them also a very different kind of respect. To constituted greatness, we owe the appointed reverence; that is, certain outward ceremonies, which ought to be, at the same time accompanied as we have shewn, with an internal recognition of the propriety of this arrangement; but which does not force upon us the idea of any real quality of greatness in those whom we so honor. We speak on our bended knee to kings. We must stand in the saloons of princes. It is folly and narrow-mindedness to refuse these observances.

But natural respect, which consists in esteem, we only owe to natural greatness; and we owe contempt and aversion to the opposite qualities to this greatness. It is not necessary that I should esteem you, because you are a duke; but it is that I bow to you.

If you

are both a duke and a virtuous man, then I will yield the reverence which I owe to both these qualities. will not refuse you the obeisance which your ducal dignity demands; nor the esteem that your virtue merits, But if you were a duke without virtue, I would then also do you justice; for while I paid that outward respect which the laws of society have attached to your rank, I would not fail to cherish towards you that inward contempt, which your meanness of soul deserved.

This is the line that justice prescribes to such duties, and injustice consists in paying natural respect to artificial greatness, or in requiring external reverence to natural greatness. Mr. N. is a greater geometer than I, and, on this account, he would take the precedence of me. I would tell him that he does not com. prehend this matter rightly. Geometry is a natural superiority-it asks the preference of esteem; but men have not appointed to it any outward acknowledgement. I take precedence of him therefore ; wbile, at the same time, I esteem him more than myself, for his geometrical talent.

In the same way, if as a duke, and a peer of the realm, you are not satisfied that I stand uncovered before you, and you require me to esteem you also, then I inust beg you to show me those qualities which deserve it. If you do this, then you gain your point, and I cannot refuse you with justice; but if you cannot do this, then you are unjust to ask it; and, most assuredly, you would not succeed, even if you were the mightiest potentate on earth.

3. I would have you, then, to know your true condition, for it is the thing, in all the world, of which you men of rank are the most ignorant. What is it, according to your notion to be a great lord ? It is to have the command of many objects of human gratification, and to be able thus to satisfy the wants and desires of many. It is the wants and the wishes of men which collect them round you and render them subservient; without that, they would not look to you exclusively; but they

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